Embracing Toxic Masculinity Is Self-Harming: Study

Men who endorse toxic masculinity can become socially isolated as they age, impacting their health, well-being and overall happiness, according to a study. The study, published in the journal Sex Roles, analysed nearly 5,500 US older women and men.

“Having people with whom we can talk about personal matters is a form of social support,” said Stef Shuster, an assistant professor at the Michigan State University (MSU) in the US.

“If people only have one person that they can share information with, or sometimes even no people, they don’t really have an opportunity to reflect and share,” Shuster said.

He said that when issues arise, like health or financial problems, it puts individuals in an incredibly disadvantaged position if they don’t have anyone to share this with, which also might have negative consequences for their mental health. “Older men who endorse the ideals of toxic masculinity can become siloed off as they age,” Shuster said.

According to the study:

  • Not all older men are at risk. Only those are at risk who favour a particular set of ideals.
  • Embracing toxic masculinity is self-harming. Toxic masculinity has detrimental consequences for the men who subscribe to these ideals.
  • As baby boomers prepare to retire from the workforce, they face challenges in finding and sustaining healthy friendships.
  • Social isolation may be alleviated by embracing an alternative understanding of masculinity that doesn’t rely on independence and toughness as the only way to be “real men,” or at least easing up on the principles of hegemonic masculinity.
  • Higher men score on the scale of hegemonic masculinity, the less likely they are to change their views or seek help.
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